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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

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Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 27th Aug 2018, 19:04
  #12181 (permalink)  
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Franek, I thoroughly endorse Danny's heartfelt plea. Please stay and tell us all you know of the Polish pilots that flew with the RAF in WWII or post-war. As Danny says, the thread had surely exhausted its original OP remit yet here is another rich vein to mine! All the Poles that became RAF Pilots gained by definition an RAF Pilots Brevet, although as we have now gathered it was not necessarily worn! As to anecdotes I posted here (#11526) my memories of Victor Fontes. An RAF navigator in the 60's when we were both on 48Sqn, but originally he was a Polish Cavalry officer and then an RAF Pilot:-

I have posted before about a Polish Nav on 48 Sqn Hastings at Changi, but his story warrants a brief reprise given present posts.

Together with much else of the Polish Army after the fall of Poland, Victor Fontes (a Polish Cavalry Officer) went south east to the Black Sea port of Constanta (a remarkable feat in itself), embarked there in a British ship for Gibraltar, transhipped for Western France to fight the Wehrmacht that had laid waste to his homeland, but arrived there only for the fall of that country. He fled south to the Pyrenees with the aid of the brave guides described to us by sidevalve, was arrested and then escaped from the Franco regime, made it back to Gibraltar where he joined the RAF for training as a Bomber Pilot (there being a lack of vacancies for Cavalry Officers!).

He survived that very dangerous occupation and remained with the post war RAF, together with so many other Poles he knew that a return to the now Communist regime back home could mean certain death. He later remustered as a nav because of the surplus of pilots.

A larger than life character in every way and still challenged by his adopted tongue, Vic was a survivor in every way and an inspiration for a then still callow co-pilot.
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 22:33
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Sure, I do not want to leave, I just think that a separate thread would better serve the purpose. There is surely lots of stories about Poles, an the thread has alredy 610 pages! It is hard to browse!
Kalinowski was Tadeusz, I presume? Joe Halkiew, ex Mosquito jock, he later flew Mosquitoes and Meteors with No 152 Sqn. What aircraft had he been flying in No 20 Sqn?
Jack Błocki was awarded with Silver Cross of Virtuti Militari, he flew Wellingtons on No 305 Sqn, then was co pilot in the crew of F/L Szostak flying Liberator from Italy with drops to underground. His last mission was Wildhorn II, he was a co pilot with RAF crew flying Dakota to Poland to retrieve some underground figures. At some point he was a mobile ATC for helis at Borneo, later in Cyprus, where he had settled. He had his memories published a few years ago, First Tango in Warsaw.
Surely there is Toorak, but Turek means Turkish man in Polish. This could be also dimunitive of aurochs.

Victor Fontes was actually Wiktor Cepiński-Flegel. He served with No 301 Sqn after the war, flying transport aircraft, Warwicks and Halifaxes. In December 1948 he joined RPAF and flew with AHQ Communication Squadron at Mauripur, Wayfarer and Dakotas. He was released in September 1949, and flew for a short while with Pak Air Ltd, and after it went belly up, he returned to the UK. I was unable to contact his family. Do you have any photos of him?

Best wishes
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 09:03
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Thank you for Victor/Wiktor's pilot background which is certainly news to me. No photos I'm afraid, but a clear picture in my mind of him working at his nav position in the Hastings. A big man clad only in his underwear, not a pretty sight! Like most big men he was a gentle giant, that is until he took umbrage with someone. Unfortunately such a person was our Sqn Cdr at Changi, and when Victor came into the Adjutant's Office (I was Deputy Adjutant and covering for him) with his completed clearance card, I accepted it and said that the CO could see him now to say goodbye. "If I see that F...ing man I will crush his F...ing skull!" (a favourite expression of Victor, no doubt with Polish roots). I hastily signed him off, wished him good fortune, and said goodbye. The boss asked later why he hadn't seen Victor that day. "You were out, Sir, so I said goodbye on your behalf", I lamely replied.

The reason this thread has run to 610 pages for over 10 years is because of its eternal popularity (and the benign forbearance of the mods!). Themes come and themes go, but the thread defies all efforts and forecasts of its demise, and is forever making new paths. The effect is that it is always near the front page, whereas many single issue threads slip inexorably into the PPRuNe depths never to be seen again. Unlike many of our themes (uniforms, cars, rations, convoy routes, etc, etc,) your proposal to introduce the stories of Polish Pilots who obtained RAF Pilots Brevets (in WWII or after) is front and centre of the thread OP. Your call of course, but if you choose to tell their stories here I'm sure they they would be warmly received and commented upon. If you did so choose your other thread could be closed by you (as thread Opening Poster). Just saying...

Last edited by Chugalug2; 28th Aug 2018 at 09:16.
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 10:03
  #12184 (permalink)  
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Well said, Chugalug2, and agree completely. These histories deserve to be in this one place, random as the current topic may be on occasion.
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 11:15
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I've found this thread absorbing for many years, recounting many of the unknown or unsung aspects of RAF life.

The contribution made by Polish forces to aid us, particularly in the most desperate early years of the War deserves to be told to this appreciative audience and Franek clearly has a depth of knowledge which would enrich this thread. Please carry on here!
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 12:49
  #12186 (permalink)  
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Franek ... In case Danny missed your question, I’m guessing Halkiew was flying Spitfires on 20 Sqn at that time.

See >>> Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

I’m sure Danny described here the work they did, but I can’t find the post[s]. Perhaps it was someone else? IIRC they flew up and down as targets for Army AA (not with live ammo, though).

Last edited by MPN11; 28th Aug 2018 at 13:17.
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 14:13
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Polish Pilots in the battle of Britain

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Old 28th Aug 2018, 14:53
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OK guys. I will leave the other thread however, as it may attract someone's attention.
Of the Polish airmen in the pictures, Zumbach had a fascinating post war story, while Tony Głowacki spend a few years in the RAF flying amongst others, Vampires and Washingtons, and then had a long career in RNZAF.
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 15:23
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When I rejoined in Feb 1951 my first posting, to await further training, was to Valley as a Link Training Instructor. Nobody was interested in the Link, so I attached myself to 20 Squadron. I was able to go with Jo Halkirk and Zenon Zmitrowicz in the back of their Beaufighters on Army Co-op down at Towyn, and fly in the right hand seat of the Oxford on similar missions. Jo and Zenon flew the Beaufighter, Spitfires,Oxford and Vampires.. I started to fly the Meteor, unofficially, by the Wing Co Of the AFS when it moved in, but before too long I was sent on the Wings Refresher Course at Oakington. Many years later when a Controller at the MHQ at Pitreavie, Jo Halkiew was the W/O Discip. A great man. He resupplied Warsaw in a Halifax in 1945, and had a top Polish medal for gallentary. Danny will remember him at Valley
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 19:04
  #12190 (permalink)  
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I was on 20 Squadron at Valley from 20/3/50 to disbandment on 19/9/51, so you must've been there with me. I was on "B" Flight, (Flt Cmdr "Willie" Hewlett, also PMC). "Red" Dunningham had the other flight, I think. "Boss" was Alex Hindley (and you couldn't have a better one). I remember "Joe" Halkiew, of course, but never knew "Zed-Zed" Zmitrowitz had the Christian (?) name "Zenon". The Squadron had Spit XVIs and Vampires III and V, everbody flew both, but only Joe, Z-Z, the Boss and Willie flew the Beau, as I recall. The Station (Wg Cdr J.E.T. Haile) had a Harvard and a TM, but don't remember any Oxford. Perhaps the AFS brought one in - they were using the Oxfords as a lead-in to the Meteor (which never struck me as a good idea) as late as 1954.

You must've enjoyed my many Posts on my Valley time in "Pilot's Brevet". Did you hear the story of the disastrous "Beauty Competiton", which was supposed to have taken place in 1949 (before I came) ?

We must've PM'd at one time, as I know your name - you must know mine ! (I had that little green Bond "Minicar" from May, 1950). My 18 months there was a very pleasant one - Ann (from Bangor), where are you now ?

Small world ! Happy days ! Danny.
Old 28th Aug 2018, 19:34
  #12191 (permalink)  
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Franek, I don't know if any of this is of use . . .
At RAF Swanton Morley between Dec 1951 and July 1952 I flew in their Ansons and Proctors with

Sgt Pedzimas
F/Lt Lanzig
Sgt Weber
Sgt Michel
F/Sgt Solecki
Sgt Kasprowiak and
Sgt Boba

In July 1952 at 201 AFS Swinderby

F/Lt Gragzyck and finally

In July 1953, from Lyneham to Dishforth

M/Plt Penczek in Valetta VW857 belonging to 242 OCU.
Presumably he was a member of staff there.

Any or all may be wartime pilots, there were a good many medal ribbons on display.
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 20:22
  #12192 (permalink)  
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As we're now venturing into the efforts of the Polish aircrews. this may be of some help and interest.
I'd known there were a lot of Polish fliers, but 17,000!
Considering what they suffered, with Germany and then "friend" Russia carving up the Country, the Katyn massacre and the Warsaw Uprising, they really had a tough War.
And then not be allowed back to their Country and persecution by the Russians...
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Old 28th Aug 2018, 21:06
  #12193 (permalink)  
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When I was a staff Wop at Topcliffe in 1946/47 there were a few Polish pilots based there and I flew with most of them on many occasions. Names that spring to mind are F/Lt Kula who unfortunately was killed as a result of a midair collision of two Wellingtons in 1948, WO Marian Zawodny, WO Stepien and WO Ted Poludniak.
They were all great guys.
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 00:15
  #12194 (permalink)  
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Guys, excellent, some more new names! The story of hammer throw was excellent one. Have you got any more?
As to Polish airmen, indeed some 17,000 personnel passed through the PAF, about 2,000 killed and missing, some 2-3,000 returned to Poland. Few were executed, some more imprisoned, but most lived through, with some minor and minor oppression by the regime. Those interested what looked like to be accused to be a British spy may look for my book Skalski: Against All Odds, though it could be too graphic for some.
Here is the list of the names plus an extra log book page for ValMorna

Sgt Aleksander Pędzimąż - new one
F/Lt Lanzig - that one I need to look for
Sgt Jerzy Weber
Sgt Józef Michel
F/Sgt Jerzy Solecki
Sgt Bogusław Kasprowiak
Sgt Tadeusz Boba - new one
F/Lt Gragzyck I think Witold Graczyk, at one point with No 202 Sqn.
M/Plt Penczek - Leopold Pęczek
F/Lt Franciszek Kula - new one
WO Marian Zawodny - new one
WO Zdzisław Stępień - new one
WO Tadeusz Południak - later in RPAF
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 07:48
  #12195 (permalink)  
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In the early '70s there was a Flight Sergeant Jan Masat(?) on the mil. FIR desk at LATCC. Jan was fascinating chap who'd been a pilot and was now under constant pressure from his wife to return to Czechoslovakia* - all the letters from his wife had been written by the Czech SIS!!

* Sorry for thread drift, I originally thought he was Polish … a 'senior moment'. Sorry Jan if you're reading this.

Last edited by FantomZorbin; 30th Aug 2018 at 08:16. Reason: Fact error!
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 12:14
  #12196 (permalink)  
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I had it in my mind that there were several Polish staff pilots as I went through Nav School in 1965, but a check with my logbook reveals I only ever flew with a Flt Lt Artymuik whilst at No 2 ANS, RAF Hullavington, in April that year.
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 16:38
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There was a Polish Master Pilot at RAF Llandow in the mid 50's. As an ATC cadet, I had the immense but noisy pleasure of sitting in on one of his test flights in a Lincoln bomber. Actually, sitting was a bit of a misnomer. It was either lying on the floor or standing behind the flight crew.
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 16:44
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Like ICM, I had it in my mind that I'd flown with several Polish staff pilots while at 2ANS, then at Gaydon, in 1966 but Flt Lt Artymuik was also my only one!

I was on 88 Course, what was yours ICM?
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Old 29th Aug 2018, 19:20
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Somewhere on this Thread there was a pic of the Leeming AT Controllers around 1969: pretty sure Jack Blocki was on it. Tried to find it with "Search this Thread", drew blank as usual. Anybody ?

Second Thought - could it have been sent to me as a PM ? Will check.

He was always talking of retiring to Cyprus, glad he managed it at the end. Was his British wife "Brenda" ?

On P.170 #3398 I said:

..."Our work was the dullest flying imaginable. During the summer months our chief regular customers were the TA AA camps at Tonfanau: they fired 3.7s (?) out to sea, some of the time at a target (drogue - flag ?) towed by the Beau. When this was in front of the guns, the crew were fairly safe, but as it got farther down the firing line the angle closed up, and sometimes an over-keen Terrier would bang off one round too many.

They peppered the tail feathers of the Beau from time to time, but never managed to shoot it down. "Joe" and "Zed-Zed" philosophically accepted this hazard: as for the little (NS) airman on the winch at the back (who was closest of all to the shrapnel), nobody asked him"...

Ormeside (#12190),

So you were down at the "sharp end" too ? Living Dangerously, I'd say ! Don't remember Joe and Zenon flying Spits and Vampires at all, as they were busy most days with the Beau - but they undoubtedly could if they wanted to, whereas we Spit and Vamp drivers wanted to know nothing of the Beau. Don't think I ever even looked in the cockpit.


Last edited by Danny42C; 29th Aug 2018 at 20:53. Reason: Duplication !
Old 29th Aug 2018, 19:25
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FantomZ,when I first went to LATCC in '79 or '80,Jan Masat was an ATCA for the CAA,and I think used to keep the briefing room up-to-date.He also stayed in the same 'digs' as me one time while at CATC,and I vaguely remember him telling of an incident while he was flying a Lysander,but I can't remember the substance of it.Funnily enough I thought he was Czech.
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